STL MAYOR, POLICE CHIEF ASK FOR FEDERAL INVESTIGATION
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and interim Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole on Sept. 27 requested that federal authorities independently investigate allegations that police used abusive and unconstitutional tactics in their response to protests over police abuse following the Sept. 15 acquittal of a white former police officer accused of murdering a black man in 2011.
Of particular concern is the St. Louis Police Department’s mass arrest of about 120 people in the downtown area on Sept. 17. According to eyewitness accounts published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other news outlets, police ordered the crowd to disperse, blocked all avenues of exit to prevent dispersal and then arrested people for not dispersing. Those arrested included journalists, nearby residents, patrons of local businesses and other bystanders who weren’t protesting but nonetheless got caught up in the police sweep, according to news reports. O’Toole has defended the department’s actions as appropriate, but in a joint statement with the mayor said he supported an independent review.
One day before city officials asked for a federal investigation, activists and some elected officials implored the St. Louis County Council to initiate an independent investigation into the conduct of St. Louis County and Richmond Heights police officers in breaking up a Sept. 23 protest at the St. Louis Galleria. That incident resulted in the arrests of 22 people and allegations of excessive force by officers. The county council heard citizen testimony regarding the incident but so far hasn’t sought an outside investigation.
HAWLEY VOTED LEGALLY BUT RESIDENCY STILL A QUESTION
An investigation by Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks concluded on Sept. 20 that Attorney General Josh Hawley legally voted in an Aug. 8 special election in Boone County. The conclusion, however, appears to be further proof that Hawley remains in violation of a state law that requires the attorney general to reside in Jefferson City.
Shortly after taking office in January, Hawley, a Republican, said he didn’t have to comply with the law and would continue to reside at his home south of Columbia. Under pressure, Hawley later relented and said he would rent an apartment to establish residency in Jefferson City in compliance with the law.
The issue seemed settled until Hawley’s decision to vote using his Columbia address in a special election to fill a vacant state representative seat. His action led to two possible conclusions: either he voted illegally or he is still violating the state residency law. The investigation by Burks, also a Republican, clears Hawley of the former possibility.
GREITENS APPOINTS TWO TO STATE HIGHWAYS COMMISSION
Gov. Eric Greitens appointed Bob Brinkmann of St. Albans and Terry Ecker of Elmo to the Missouri State Highways and Transportation Commission on Sept. 22. The six-member highways commission is the independent governing authority for the Missouri Department of Transportation and decides what road and bridge projects will receive state funding.
Brinkmann is chief executive officer of R.G. Brinkmann Co., a general contracting and construction management firm. Ecker is president of Ecker Farms Inc. in northwest Missouri. Both men are Republicans. They can begin serving immediately subject to Senate confirmation in January.